This guide to Old Goa is an account on the architectural masterpieces in the form of cathedrals, churches, chapels and convents for which Old Goa (Velha Goa) is famous. These were built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries AD in laterite and lime-plaster. Among these the most fascinating ones are Se Cathedral, Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of St. Cajetan, Chapel of St. Catherine, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Church of St. Augustine.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, enshrining the mortal remains of St. Xavier, is an imposing edifice with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilastered façade. The Church of St. Cajetan is also another impressive building modeled on St. Peter’s Church in Rome. Also notable is Se Cathedral, which is an example of Renaissance architecture with Corinthian columns at its portals, Tuscan exterior and the barrel vault above the nave. The paintings in the churches were done on wooden borders and fixed between the panels having floral designs as in the chapels housing the tomb of St. Xavier, the arches above the altars in the transept of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Apart from a few statues in stone, there are some carved delicately in wood, depicting the saints, Mother Mary and Jesus on the Cross, painted to adorn the altars.

Venture beyond the palm-fringed beaches of Goa and discover the most enduring landmarks of this heritage, viz., the churches and convents of Old Goa.

Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa (Lat. 15° 33′ North; Long. 73° 15′), lies 10 kill to the east of Panaji, the capital of the state of Goa. Apart from its world-famous beaches, Old Goa has a magnificent group of churches dating from the sixteenth century onwards. The architectural styles then prevalent in Europe, be it the Classical, the Baroque or the Manuline, are reflected in the construction of these churches.

The Church of St. Augustine with its Corinthian columns and colossal bell tower, the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi with its ornamented entrance, trefoil arch and rib-vaulted nave reminiscent of the Gothic style, the Basilica of Bom Jesus with its facade decorated with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters and the Se Cathedral with its Tuscan exterior and the Corinthian columns at its portals are a few of the stately monuments of Old Goa.

The monuments of Old Goa are open to public between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm or all days including public, state and national holidays. The Archaeological Museum is open between 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on a11 days, excluding Fridays.

There is no entry fee for the monuments, but those above 15 years of age are charged Rs.5 to enter the Museum.  The ASI Director General’s permission is required for taking photographs of the museum artifacts. However, still photography, without the use of tripod, is allowed in the monuments.

The nearest international airport is located at Dabolim, 32 km from Panaji. Most domestic airlines operate direct flights from Goa to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Private chartered airlines from international destinations also land here. The nearest railhead at Vasco da Gama, 35 km from Panaji, has daily trains to and from Delhi and Mumbai. Konkan Railway has a station at Karmali, close to Panaji.

Old Goa is connected by excellent bus services to Panaji, which lies on the National Highway (NH 4A) leading to Panda and onwards to Belgaum and Hubli. Long-distance and local buses leave from the Kadamba Bus Terminal in Panaji for Mumbai, Bangalore, Hampi and other destinations. There is the Tourist Hotel run by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation in Old Goa. However, Panaji offers a large variety of hotels to choose from.

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